House Committee Examines Foster Care Failures
Missouri House members aren’t pleased with a lack of answers from the Department of Social Services in the wake of a federal report slamming the department’s lack of response when children in foster care go missing.
The report released last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services’ Office of the Inspector General is based on 2019 data. It said the state does not properly report when children are missing and doesn’t do enough to keep them from going missing again, if they are found.
The House Children and Families Committee held a public hearing this week to delve into the report and seek answers from the department. The chair of the committee said, “I was shocked by the scope of the report but I was not surprised by the content.”
The study found that 978 children went from missing state care at some point during 2019. In looking closely at the handling of 59 cases of children missing from foster care, it found that in nearly half there was no evidence that the state had reported those children missing as required by law.
The committee heard testimony from the Department of Social Services Acting Director who said many of the policy issues cited in the report stemmed from a previous administration. She produced a 2016 memo from the previous director that allowed caseworkers to quit some practices and documentation, some of which she says has been resumed since 2019.
The chair of the House Children and Families Committee and other lawmakers were frustrated by what they saw as a “passing of the buck,” trying to blame that earlier administration, and a failure to follow the law and to implement programs the legislature has authorized to help the division keep foster kids safe.
She asked, “If the tools that have been given by the legislature have not been utilized and if the state and federal laws are not being followed because it’s the policy of the department, what enforcement mechanism could the legislature use to induce you to follow state and federal statute?”
The chair of the House Children and Families Committee went on to say she was troubled the department did not provide much information outside of what was in the federal report and even challenged its findings. She said the next step will be to hold a hearing focused on possible solutions.
“We’re going to continue to work and see what pressure we can put on the department to continue to follow state and federal law. The committee will continue to hold hearings. We’ll probably have one more and then we’ll have a report with recommendations and I would think that you’ll see legislation that comes out of this process,” she said.
State Continues to See Healthy Revenue Growth
Missouri continues to see its economy grow and received good news again this week when the September revenue numbers showed a healthy increase.
For September 2021 the state took in $1.1 billion in revenue, which is up from $944.5 million in September 2020. The enhanced level of revenue amounts to a 16.3 percent increase.
The latest revenue numbers show sales and use tax collection increased by 20.7 percent in September. Overall, the state has seen sales and use tax collection for the year increase by 22.9 percent. To date the state has collected $736.9 million in sales tax revenue. At the same point last year, the state had collected only $599.7 million.
The state has also seen other collections increase this year with the exception of individual income taxes. For September, income tax collections were down by 17.1 percent, and for the year they are down 18.9 percent overall. The state has currently collected $1.9 billion in income tax, while at the same time last year it had collected $2.35 billion.
The drop in income tax collection is the result of skewed numbers from last year when tax filing deadlines in April and June were moved to July 15, 2020. The late deadline put many of the income tax collections in the FY 2021 fiscal year, which inflated the overall numbers for the year.
Despite the continued healthy growth, the late filing deadlines from 2020 continue to put the state behind the revenue collections seen last year. To date the state has seen a decrease of 10.6 percent in overall revenues. At this time last year the state had collected $3.09 billion in revenue. This year so far the state has collected $2.76 billion. Despite this, the state budget director says Missouri continues to be on pace to fully fund the state operating budget.
Please let me know If you have other concerns and suggestions. If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally, please call my office at 573-751-1487, or email my office at email@example.com.
The following information is derived from the Grain Valley Police Department daily calls for service log for the week of September 29—October 5 , 2021.
by Michael Smith
The Grain Valley offense had its struggles against a strong Fort Osage defense in last week’s 9-8 loss.
While the offense sputtered, the defense was strong and kept the team in the game. In Friday’s contest, Grain Valley excelled on both sides of the ball while Larson led the offense in a 45-7 rout of the Bears at Independence All-School Stadium.
With the Bears committing most of its defenders in the box to stop the Eagles run game, Caleb Larson took advantage in the passing game. He finished by completing 9 of 15 passes for 114 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Larson used run-pass options to fool the Bears defense. The first play of that kind went for a 39-yard touchdown pass to Brek Sloan on a slant route in the first quarter to make it 7-0.
“That was awesome,” Larson said. “Coming in, under the circumstances he was in, he made a big play and that’s really good for him.”
He threw an interception later in the period but he didn’t let that affect him.
“You just have to shake it off, it’s too early in the game to get down on yourself and think you’re not going to do anything,” Larson said of his interception. “I had to get that one back. The team did really well and I had great blocking and the receivers caught the ball. That’s all that matters.”
Grain Valley head coach David Allie said he was impressed with pre-snap adjustments Larson made.
“He had a couple of hot routes, hit some hitches and made some good checks,” Allie said of Larson. “I thought he did a great job managing the game.”
Larson also ran the ball 10 times for 81 yards and a rushing touchdown. Freshman running back DJ Harris added 62 yards on 10 carries and a score. Fifty-nine of those yards came on a drive late in the first period when he scored on a 2-yard run to give his team a 14-0 lead.
Grain Valley (4-3) scored 21 points in the second quarter, with a fumble recovery by Brody Baker and an interception from junior linebacker Cole Elliott led to a 20-yard TD run from Larson and a 11-yard scoring strike from Larson to a wide-open Logan Pratt on a play action pass. Sandwiched between those scored was a 16-yard TD pass from Larson to sophomore receiver Anthony Greco, whom the junior signal caller is building a strong rapport with, on a similar play action pass from the pistol formation.
“Our relationship is starting to build,” Larson said of Greco, whom he targeted seven times. “I am trusting him more and more. He’s going to be my main target for the next few years.”
The Eagles went into halftime up 35-0 and capped their scoring in the third period with a 5-yard TD run by senior running back Jaxon Wyatt and a 41-yard field goal from Austin Schmidt.
The Bears didn’t score until there was 1:15 left in the game against the Grain Valley reserves on defense.
The Eagles have held their last three opponents to just 9.6 points per game and limited the Bears to 163 total yards, 62 of which came against the Eagles backups.
“That backfield (for Chrisman) is explosive,” Allie said. “And they have a great quarterback. We came into the game thinking we had our work cut out for us. The defense did a good job of containing the run, I think they had one big one.
“We talked about that. If we could keep them from not having runs over 20 yards, we could be successful. We did a good job of not letting that happen. The defense has been playing well all season.”
Sophomore Gabe Storment and juniors Keagan Hart also had interceptions. Camden Nelson got the Eagles (4-3, 2-1 Suburban Middle Six Conference) lone sack and senior linebacker Owen Perkins led Grain Valley with 4.5 tackles.
“We’ve really stepped it up this year,” Hart said of the defense. “We have lost a lot of starters (from last year’s team) but it doesn’t really matter. Day in and day out, we are going to go out there and work.
“We got pressure up front on their quarterback and allowed the linebackers and myself to get what we needed to be.”
Caleb Larson led the offense in a 45-7 rout of the Bears at Independence All-School Stadium.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
After the Friday night lights of Grain Valley High School football games have faded, the next generation of Eagles take to the field on Saturdays each fall.
The Grain Valley Sports League (GVSL) offers football, flag football, cheer, and basketball leagues for youth in Grain Valley.
GVSL is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and led and organized by an army of parent coaches and volunteers.
Coach Robbie Schatzer played college football and became involved as a coach when his son began playing football with the league. Schatzer has volunteered with the league for three years. On a recent Saturday afternoon, we caught up with Schatzer as his third grade team took to the field for a game.
“At this level, they are working on the fundamentals of the game. Holding onto the ball, and learning how to block and drive,” Schatzer said.
As the boys began warm ups, we asked Schatzer what the most challenging part of the game is for students at this age.
“Attentiveness,” Schatzer said with a smile.
“A lot of kids are timid about running the ball at this age. We work on getting them out of that with a series of drills.”
Schatzer also coaches a 7th grade team that took the field at Moody Murry Stadium later that evening.
Cheer coach April Watkins was on the sidelines as Schatzer’s third grade team prepared to take the field. Equipping a boisterous group of girls with pom poms, Watkins quickly had the crew prepped and lined up to get the crowd going.
The GVSL cheer program consists of 45 youth in Kindergarten—6th grade. Students focus on basic fundamentals of cheer and learning the basics of football, so they know when their team is on offense or defense.
Watkins said the cheer program is taking a break from cheering the League’s basketball program due to COVID-19, but are getting plenty of opportunities to cheer for the Eagles during football season.
Basketball signups are now available for boys and girls in Kindergarten—7th grade.
For more information and to register, visit the Grain Valley Sports League’s website at www.grainvalleysportsleague.com.
by Michael Smith
The Grain Valley boys and girls teams hadn’t run the cross country course at Grain Valley North Middle School all season.
Junior Carson Hill has never run on the course even though it’s located in his hometown.
That didn’t stop him or his boys team from having a strong showing at the eighth annual Sock It To Cancer Grain Valley Invitational Saturday. In fact, Hill won the individual title, while his team also finished atop the podium with 22 points.
The girls team took second with 48 points. Blue Springs won with 32.
Hill easily took first with a time of 16:39. He finished ahead of teammate Mason McCain, who was a second-place finisher at 17:05.8. It was Hill’s third first-place finish of the year.
“I always aim for first, but I undoubtedly knew I’d get it today,” Hill said.
Grain Valley head coach Nick Small said Hill has been a leader for the team and has displayed a team-first mentality.
“We’re excited about his progression,” Small said of Hill. “He broke the course record today and that was cool to see happen. He has his head on straight and he’s a humble kind of guy. I am excited to see what he can do moving forward.”
The course was a difficult one for some runs as it featured many hills during the final mile. But it was something McCain was used to.
“I live about a mile from here,” McCain said. “I run here often. I am pretty used to this course, and I think it was pretty fun.”
“We came out pretty hard and tried to hang on for as long as possible. It’s pretty fun to be able to run with Carson for a little bit.”
Small said he’s been impressed with how much McCain has improved since the beginning of the season.
“He has improved his mindset and his approach,” Small said of McCain. “Being teammates with Carson has helped him a lot and has helped him realize that he can run with those top guys.”
Rounding out the times for Grain Valley were sophomore Adrian Bobzien (fourth, 18:00.5), senior Jackson Williams (seventh, 18:38.4), sophomore Chris Fossinger (eighth, 18:45), freshman David Roberson (13th, 19:06.9) and freshman Landon Barnes (15th, 19:06.9).
“I think our team has a legitimate shot to make state as a team,” McCain said. “We were all right at the beginning of the season. Now everyone is focused.
For the girls team, Ella Casey led the way for the Eagles as she took third with a time of 20:58.1. While it’s a strong finish, the senior wasn’t satisfied with the result.
“I wasn’t super happy with it,” Casey said of her final time, but it’s not bad considering the conditions of this course.
“Right at the 2K mark, it’s really hilly. My time was a lot slower than usual but that’s taking into account all of the hills.”
Like Hill and McCain, Small has noticed improvement from Casey.
“She’s kind of turned the corner, too,” Small said. “She has made a lot of progress this season. Ella has ups and downs, but this season, she has really decided to get after it since it’s her senior year. I have been excited about her season.”
Finishing second on the team and seventh overall was freshman Amyah Grayball, who finished at 21:24.
“I felt good. It was a nice day,” Graybill said. “There’s a lot of incline on this course. You really have to lean into it.
“I wasn’t really expecting a (personal record) because of all the hills on this course.”
Rounding out the times for Grain Valley were sophomore Kayley Bell (10th, 21:37.9), junior Lexie Nicholson (12th, 22:00.3), freshman Jordan Gossage (16th, 22:12.7) and senior Gabby Valverde (17th, 22:21.6).
“Our last race, we were almost back-to-back finishing,” Graybill said. “We stayed pretty close together. That’s something we are good at.”
In an effort to engage citizens in the branding conversations currently underway, the City is hosting a series of listening sessions at Iron Kettle Brewery, 508 Main ST next week.
Aldermen from each ward will meet with constituents on one of three evening sessions to gather input on what Grain Valley means to them.
Alderman Stratton and Alderman Cleaver will meet with residents from Ward I on October 12th, Alderman Mills and Alderman Knox will meet with Ward II residents on October 14th, and Alderman Bass and Alderman Headley will meet with Ward III residents on October 20th. Each session will be held from 5:30pm—7:00pm.
Residents who have not already done so are encouraged to complete the branding survey at www.brandgrainvalley.com.
The Jackson County Legislature voted Monday, October 4th to extend the indoor mask mandate through November 6th.
Ron Finley, Jalen Anderson, Crystal Williams, Tony Miller, Scott Burnett, and Charlie Franklin voted in favor; Jeanie Lauer and Teresa Galvin voted against. Legislator Dan Tarwater III was absent.
Four-legged friends and their owners are invited to gather for fun, games, and competition at Dogtober Fest 2021, Sunday, October 17th from 10:00am—4:00pm at the Kemper Outdoor Education Center in Jackson County’s Fleming Park.
This is the 27th year for the popular annual event presented by Jackson County Parks + Rec. Admission is free with the donation of dog food to benefit the Lee’s Summit Animal Shelter and other small, local shelters and rescues participating in the event.
Masks are encouraged at the outdoor event when social distancing cannot be maintained.
Dogtober Fest 2021 is full of free contests and games throughout the day, such as Bobbing for Biscuits, Musical Discs and Roll-Over Races. Don’t miss the beloved Halloween Costume Contest at 1:00pm featuring three categories: Frightful, Delightful and another for groups with three or more dogs.
Visitors can also participate in the favorite “Tails for Trails Dog-Walk for Parks,” a one-mile walk on the nature trail at Kemper Outdoor Education Center. Registration is $20 in advance or $25 at the registration booth.
Participants will receive an event t-shirt and a goodie bag. There are also small entry fees for dog sport competitions, clinics, good canine citizen testing, and trick dog title evaluations.
Back by popular demand is the non-competitive Canine Adventure Challenge. This 20-plus course features obstacles designed to intrigue and build teamwork among dogs and owners. The Canine Adventure Challenge is an on-leash experience. All dogs are welcome to join, whether they have advanced training or no training at all!
Guests will enjoy a variety of new activities this year including:
Teacup Agility Clinics and Teacup Agility Fun Runs that are specifically for dogs of smaller stature who are no more than 20" at the shoulders. The teacup agility obstacles are a scaled down version more appropriate for their size.
A Nose Work Clinic that capitalizes on your dog’s natural ability to hunt for and locate high value food or toys.
Nose Work Outdoor Search for those already proficient in K9 Nose Work who want to practice their skills.
Trick Dog Title Evaluations for dogs that know a lot of tricks and what to earn a Trick Dog Title. We will be evaluating both AKC and ‘Do More with Your Dog’ Trick Dog Titles.
In addition to great activities, guests will enjoy exploring vendor booths featuring pet products, services, breed education and demonstrations for pet owners. Area animal shelters and rescue groups will also be on hand showcasing dogs available for adoption.
Workshop and activity registration is available online for $5 per event. The deadline for online registration is October 14th. Event-day registration is available on-site at a cost of $7 per event.
For a complete list of activities and event schedule, visit https://www.makeyourdayhere.com/Events-Attractions/Outdoor-Education/Dogtober-Fest.
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Sock hops were held as early as the 1940s to raise money for war relief efforts, but the dances grew in popularity and became known as a type of informal school dance throughout the 1950s and 60s. It was called a "sock hop" because we were required to remove our shoes so we wouldn't scratch the school gymnasium floor.
Music was the other defining characteristic of a sock hop. “Rock-and-roll” became popular in 1951 when a Cleveland disc jockey, Alan Freed, first used the term. At the same time televisions were becoming common place in American homes and teens, including those in Grain Valley, were beginning to watch shows like American Bandstand.
Like "American Idol" today, "American Bandstand" became popular among TV viewers. The show began broadcasting from Philadelphia on October 7, 1952. Dick Clark became the host in 1956 and the show went national in 1957.
At that time Lottie Gibler ran a café in the building which is now known as The Iron Kettle. Carol (Perry) Gorley was a classmate of her daughter, Kay Gibler (Class of 1961). She remembers going to the café on most days after school to listen to rock and roll tunes and dance with her friends. Later, Lottie’s son, Malcomb owned the restaurant and ran a “Teen Town” there on Saturday nights.
In the spring of Carol’s senior year, her classmates had a Pizza Party and Sock Hop to raise funds for their senior trip. Senior parents helped with the project by cooking pizzas in the home economics room. Remember Chef Boyardee Pizza Mixes? As a freshman and younger sister of a senior, I remember helping to make and serve the pizza. I also remember my mother and Earlene (Tate) Mueller going into the gym and dancing with their sons!
By 1961 Grain Valley did not have a teen town but there were lots of school dances including three of four sock hops each year. This photograph appeared in the 1961 Treasure Chest Yearbook and was captioned, “Dancing or acrobats at the Pep Club Sock Hop???” If you are a Grain Valley graduate before 1965 you will remember basketball games in the gym and the second-floor balcony.
What are your special memories of GVHS?
The Historical Society invites you to join us for Coffee with Classmates –the Rock ‘n Roll Years (1950-1970) on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 beginning at 10:00 AM. We will reconnect, reminiscence, and share memorabilia from our days at Grain Valley! I hope you will join us.
Joe Pittman, 2020 Grain Valley High School graduate, published author, and budding coffee shop entrepreneur, will break ground on his planned coffee shop, Joeshmoes, on Thursday, October 7th.
The planned coffee shop will be located in the northeast corner of the Old Towne Marketplace, and will feature drive-thru service as well as indoor seating. A special Joeshmoes blend of coffee will be served, along with waffles and specialty coffee and tea drinks.
Pittman originally had his eye on another nearby space, also a Ward Property LLC space, for a coffee shop. As he talked with them about his plans, they suggested the open lot on the northeast side of the property.
“They were like, we think this location here would be a great fit for you,” Pittman said. “It all just kind of came together.”
After taking a year after graduation to publish a daily devotional book and finalize his plans to begin his own business, Pittman is thrilled to break ground and looks forward to serving his signature “joe” to Grain Valley very soon.
Follow updates on Joeshmoes on Facebook and Instagram.